The 16th stage of the Trans-Pyrenees Crossing begins with an ascent to Cases Hill. Once you go over this hill, you will enter the Arinsal Valley and climb it until reaching its top. From this point the star of the stage is Comapedrosa. The long climb from the Arinsal Valley to Portella Baiau, the point where you enter Catalonia, goes around Comapedrosa on its western and southern slopes. If the weather is good and you have plenty of energy, we recommend momentarily detouring from the GR 11 and climbing to the top. In turn, the final stage in the middle of the cirque of Baiau, in Catalan territory, is unforgettable!
Stage that runs through high mountain terrain. You must pay special attention to the descent from Portella de Baiau to Baiau Lake. In winter conditions, the technical difficulty of the stage increases considerably.
In winter and spring, you will encounter snow and ice.
No special equipment required.
Andorra. 1:50.000. Editorial Alpina.
Let's begin the 16th stage of the Trans-Pyrenees Crossing to (1) Arans (0:00 - 1,355m). In this small village, take the path goes towards Torta Canal (SW). During this first part of the stage you have to ascend 600m in altitude until you reach Cases Hill. Go up through a relentless wooded area. The path is straight up and the climb is difficult. After about one hour of effort you will reach (2) Cases Hill (1:00 - 1,958m). It is worth stopping in this grassy hill, which provides great views of Cassamanya (E) and the ski slopes of Pal-Arinsal (W).
From the hill you will began a steep and direct descent towards the Arinsal Valley. You will enter the housing development of Mas de Ribafeta and go down a paved road until reaching the highway, which you will take towards the NW, going up the valley. You will immediately reach the centre of the town of (3) Arinsal (1:50 - 1,490m). Arinsal has become an important tourist centre thanks to its ski resort (now integrated into the domain of Vallnord). Cross the town of Arinsal and continue up the road. Leave behind the car park to the left and cross the tunnel. Just out of the tunnel, turn to the right, go around some houses and take the dirt track that continues going up the valley (NW) towards the Comapedrosa Valley.
The ascent that await you to Portella de Baiau is very physically demanding, but you are rewarded with wonderful views, beautiful spots and a rich variety of landscapes and environments. In a 180-degree turn that the track makes to the right, you will abandon it and continue on the path that goes up towards the Comapedrosa Refuge (look for the GR 11 markers and the signs for the refuge). From here the ascent continues along a mountain path. Cross the Areny River and continue through Obaga de Comapedrosa. After a quite steep stretch you will reach the mountain pass of (4) Comapedrosa (3:45 - 2,224m). At this point there is a path that goes towards the left (S) that in five minutes will take you to Comapedrosa Refuge(2,276m). This refuge, which can be a good alternative for the night if the weather is bad or your energy is running out, is located in a wonderful place, right next to Truites Lake.
From the mountain pass of Comapedrosa, continue the hard climb towards Portella Baiau. Continue going up the valley straight towards the west until reaching an altitude of 2660m. At this point the GR 11 trail makes a sharp turn to the right (NE) and continues to climb a rocky channel. The trail zigzags to facilitate the ascent. On the right (E) you can see the entire Comapedrosa Valley, which you have been ascending. Go around the ponds of the Negre Lake and go up a ravine until reachingNegre Lake. Go around the lake on its eastern shore and take on the last stretch of ascent through a scree area. The high mountain environment is spectacular! You will finally reach (5) Portella de Baiau (4:45 - 2,757m). The views from Comapedrosa (2,939m, E) and the cirque of Baiau (NW) are extraordinary!
The GR 11 leaves Andorra and returns to Catalonia. Be very careful, you are probably very tire and the descent to Baiau Lake is very steep. Once you have reached the shore of the lake, go around to the right and go up to the rounded hill where you will find the(5) Baiau Refuge (5:45 - 2,517m).
Discovering the Comapedrosa Valley Nature Reserve.
Spending a night in the cirque of Baiau, an environment with indescribable high mountains!
The Vallnord brand includes the ski resorts of Pal-Arinsal and Ordino-Arcalís? The commercial merger of the ski resorts in the parishes of Massana and Ordino was carried out in 2004 to better compete with the large Grandvalira ski resort (parishes of Encamp and Canillo).
If you have time and strength, take a detour from the base route and climb the highest mountain in Andorra, the peak of Comapedrosa (2,939m). You can climb it by means of its SW crest (with a path that goes from the GR 11 shortly before reaching the Negre Lake) or by means of its western side or from the final uphill stretch of the GR 11 to Portella de Baiau (with a path that goes up the peak zigzaging or another path that goes through the mountain pass of Forat dels Malhiverns).
You will spend a night in an open shelter. You will have to buy the provisions that you think to be necessary the day before or the same day in Arans or Arinsal.